Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Time for a 2nd look at the Voting Rights Act of 1965?


To riff off of George Will's column this week on a Supreme Court challenge to the Voting Rights Act, progressives who question the relevancy of the Constitution which guarantees certain fundamental rights, are strangely unprogressive about a law whose intent was to correct wrongs specific to time and place. Such is the case with the Votings Right Act of 1965 that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had plagued black voters particularly in the South.

Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, a case that will decide the survival of the preclearance provisions of the Act that requires federal oversight of voting practices in 16 states.

By whatever degree it was needed back in the 60s, is such a law that requires federal approval for even the slightest of changes to local voting ordinances still needed in 2013?

Maybe to help answer that question, we should take a look at the rather perverse way the Act has been used lately that would appear to represent the very antithesis of the intent of the law which was to guarantee access to and equality of the franchise.

We've authored 2 specific posts with respect to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The following from back in 2011 represents the first of those two posts:

Federal judge: Blacks need to be told who the Democrats are on the ballot

The plantation mentality is alive and well in the South, after all.

A U.S. District Court judge has rejected a challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — filled when the Department of Justice barred the city of Kinston, N.C. from holding nonpartisan elections — reasoning that lack of access to party affiliation would discriminate against minority voters who otherwise wouldn’t know how to find Democratic candidates on a ballot.

The challenge was initiated after the Justice Department rejected a 2008 referendum vote in which the city of Kinston voted to stop listing candidates’ party affiliations on ballots.

Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department must approve changes to election law in regions with a history, however distant, of racial discrimination.

The Justice Department prevented the 2008 referendum change, arguing in part that “the elimination of party affiliation on the ballot will likely reduce the ability of blacks to elect candidates of choice.”

Advocates for nonpartisan elections including Republican state representative Stephen LaRoque and several other Kinston residents subsequently sued the Justice Department, challenging the constitutionality of Section 5.

If there is a better example of institutional bigotry with respect to voting rights in this country, we'd like to see it.

The statist desire to see minorities as wards of the state now extends to that of a single political party as well.

The assumptive reasoning behind this is rather absurd as local elections, particularly in smaller towns across the country are absent party affiliation and how does the flip side of this sound?: Republicans will be required to be identified on the ballot so that white voters will be better able to select their candidate of choice.

The Holder Justice Department: enforcing the soft bigotry of low expectations for minorities in America since 2009.

We will re-run the 2nd of the aforementioned posts later this week and which documents probably even greater lunacy in the application of the VRA in local elections.

1 comment:

K T Cat said...

LOL! I hadn't heard about the nonpartisan ballot problem. What a horror it would be if voters made a decision based on values!